Saturday, May 28, 2005

Misogyny and Sexism: Alive and Well in The Conservative Party of Canada

To listen to the commentary flying around the country this last month, one would think that Canadians are still in the dark ages… or at least their politicians are. The cause of all of the commentary? Newmarket – Aurora MP and Conservative Party superstar Belinda Stronach’s defection to the Liberal Party of Canada. That’s right. The cause of all of the vitriolic, misogynistic, malicious, childish, vindictive remarks heard in the sound bites and read in the newspapers around the country was not a rapist, not a murderer; it wasn’t even a purveyor of child pornography. No friends, it was none of these things; it was in fact an MP who crossed the floor.

Belinda Stronach, the woman who was instrumental in brokering the merger between the Alliance Party and the Progressive Conservative Party into one supposedly cohesive party, the woman who once ran for Conservative Party leadership (and unfortunately lost to the bland, ineffectual Stephen Harper), the woman who was one of the most modernizing, progressive voices in the Conservative Party defected saying: “….As time went on, I felt uncomfortable with the direction the leader [Stephen Harper] was taking [the party]….”. While her detractors have dismissed the statement as an excuse, the comment may have been indicative that the chasm between the extreme right Alliance members and the centre right Conservative members is widening contrary to the united front the party puts on.

Had most of the comments been political in nature, one would expect them. If there were comments about Ms. Stronach being a turn-coat, or betraying her, political principles, or even betraying her party, then one could accept them, chalk them up to the usual mud-slinging that goes on and maybe even accept them. However, the comments have been far from political in nature. They have in fact been extremely personal.

The comments have ranged from Ms. Stronach being called an “attractive dipstick” by former provincial (Ontario) Cabinet Minister Bob Runciman to Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Rev. Tony Abbott saying: “To me, what it is, it’s a little rich girl basically whoring herself out to the Liberals”. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper briefly traded in his leadership role for the role of gossip columnist commenting on the status of Ms. Stronach’s personal relationship with Conservative Peter MacKay after making several derogatory comments in the vein of “I’ve never really noticed complexity to be Belinda’s strong point”. When the party’s leader stoops to shilling gossip and making derogatory comments, can one really blame the rank and file members?

The comments made about Ms. Stronach that were political in nature were fair game. The comments on her personal life were completely out of bounds and in no way acceptable to the Canadian public. For the most part (with some notable exceptions), people wrote in to newspapers condemning the personal nature of the remarks made about Ms. Stronach but by far, the biggest condemnation was reserved for Mr. (Rev) Abbott. Mr. Abbott offered a grudging apology only after a hail of criticism from within his own party (read: former Progressive Conservatives) and the general public. In fact, an insider at the Legislature confirms the report that Mr. Abbott was involved in a physical altercation with another MLA over the comments he made. Mr. Abbott’s office has of course denied this allegation. This same insider when questioned about the core values of a party that has people who makes comments like that said that Mr. Abbott’s remarks could not be taken as indicative of the attitude of the entire Conservative Party but should be taken as more of a reminder of the extreme right that Mr. Abbott hails from.

Regardless of where Mr. Abbott et al hail from, these remarks cross every single conceivable boundary that exists in polite society. These remarks point to something that many females who would rather tear up a ballot than vote Conservative fear. They fear that misogyny and sexism are very much alive and well in the Conservative Party and judging by the level of personal comments that have been heard and read; they are not wrong. In fact, those comments only prove that they are right.

If Stephen Harper thought that running off at the mouth was going to win his party more votes in the election that is going to be called sooner rather than later, he should have thought twice. It is a proven fact that Canadians have a very low tolerance for sexism and misogyny and those quaint remarks from obviously sexist and misogynistic men hit a new low. What would have been smarter for the party faithful to do was make the same comment that Iris Evans made ``Just don’t call me a politician today``. In that single sentence, Ms. Evans managed to convey her displeasure, her disdain and her anger and she managed to do it without stooping to personal remarks. New Brunswick's Conservative Premier Bernard Lord echoed the sentiment. "This is just another action, another moment, that breeds cynicism of electors", David Hancock of the Alberta Legislature weighed in saying "She got elected as a Conservative, she ran for the leadership of the Conservatives, and I think that sort of positioning just brings the whole operation of politics and politicians into disrepute". All of those comments are well within the realm of acceptable, and coincidentally, all of them were made by former Progressive Conservatives.

It is apparent that Stephen Harper does not truly comprehend the complexity of the Canadian voter. It is also apparent that he thinks a strong majority in the Western provinces is exactly what will win him the election. What he cannot seem to fathom however, is that women who vote will certainly not vote for a party that allows its members to make disgusting, vile comments about a woman who did what many men have done. They will not vote for a party that condemns a woman for having just as much ambition as a man, and they will definitely not vote for a party that try as they might to convince Canadians that they have a centre not extreme right agenda on their minds.

No matter how much they deny it, under the leadership (and I use the term leadership very loosely here) of Stephen Harper, this party has veered to the extreme right. As a voter, I would definitely think twice about voting for the Conservatives in any election be it for the province or the country. If the Conservative Party of Canada wants to win any kind of power in the next election, they need to replace the extreme right members with people who are more centre right and certainly more tactful.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Quick Thought

I stumbled upon this website by accident while researching something else. Do people really still think like this in this day and age?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Women and Their Rights.

Currently, Laura Bush is on an image repairing mission in the Middle East. While there, Mrs. Bush has been very outspoken about the status of women in the ME. While this is an issue that needs to be taken up, it does not need to be taken up by a woman whose husband is systemically setting women's rights back years with each new law he and his Republican buddies pass. The latest right under attack? The right to choose. For years Republicans have wanted Roe v. Wade overturned. While the case going before the Supreme Court is not Roe v. Wade, it is the beginning of the dismantling of the right to choose. htp://
The above link is off of the BBC website. That story details the case that the Supreme Court is set to hear. This case is the latest in a long line of initiatives by the religious right to force its beliefs down everyone else's throat. Since GWB came into power family planning programs that advocate birth control have lost funding, two types of abortion have come under fire, aid agencies that provide birth control overseas to those who would otherwise not have access to it have lost funding because "abstinence is the best birth control", and schools are being coerced into teaching abstinence based sex-ed programs (which are proven to not work well).
If Laura Bush (a.k.a. the Republican Party Secret Weapon) wants to give women more rights, perhaps she should start by telling her husband.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Human Cost of War

Every day and every night, we are bombarded with images of war. Images of burned out cars, bombs going off, soldiers with guns jumping at every noise. What the mainstream media has done however, is removed the very human cost of war.
Mainstream media for the most part shows us the images of burned out cars, not burned out people. They show us the bloody aftermath, but not those who are left behind to mourn and try to survive. They show us the soldiers living and dying in Iraq but don't show us the very real cost to their families back in the U.S. They are more than willing to talk about how much money the war is or isn't (depending on if you are watching Fox News) costing. They will cite opinion poll after opinion poll but they don't transmit the real thoughts, the real opinions, the very real fear and grief of those in the thick of it. It is precisely this lack of realistic reporting on the human cost of war that alienates us from each other.
If the family of each American Soldier who died in this imperialistic folly started by their cardboard President could meet just one family in Iraq who has lost a person, they could all see that grief is universal. Pain and suffering by those left behind is universal. If the media had the balls to go against the Bush Administration party line and talk about the true cost to American Soldiers in terms of PTSD, physical illness and just plain old fear, Americans would see that in reality, Iraqis and Americans are losing the same thing and they are both paying the same price. Iraqis are no happier with the constant bombings, shootings, kidnappings etc that are happening on a daily basis. They are not happy with feeling powerless yet they are powerless to do anything to stop it. On the other side of the pond, Americans could no more stop GWB from going to war than I could. GWB and the neo-con cabal that is currently running the country were gung-ho for war with Iraq right from the beginning and no one, not even Osama Bin Laden and the 9/11 disaster were going to stop them.
The cost of war should never be measured in dollars and cents. It should in fact be measured in bodies and blood. Economic and oil interests are the cause, not the cost. The true cost of war is the human cost.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Stronach's Defection

Belinda Stronach's defection to the Liberal Party of Canada is in a word: brilliant! Absolutely bloody brilliant. Stronach's defection may finally bring down Stephen Harper who from the beginning has been unfit to rule the Conservative Party. Harper is far from the "average everyman" that the party purports to represent. He is in fact an extreme right wing conservative who would send women back to the dark ages if he could and make Homosexuality illegal. This is not a man who is centre right the way he pretends to be. His comments regarding Ms. Stronach's defection today were extremely personal in nature and not at all political. This proves he is unfit to rule.

It will be interesting to see what effect Stronach's defection has on the Conservatives but one can say that it will definitely be a big one.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Adscam - The Liberals Thank Canadians

The Liberals thank Canadians for their votes….

As far as thank-yous go, the Liberal Party of Canada may have outdone themselves. The stench emanating from the Gomery inquiry is both extremely potent and extremely nauseating.

When Adscam first came out, most Canadians were sure it was just another scheme to buy Quebec’s favour. No one could have predicted the reality of it. No one could have predicted the depths of corruption that have been exposed. No pundit, no veteran political reporter, no MP could have predicted that the fall out from the Gomery Inquiry could have such a catastrophic effect not just on the Liberal party but also on the Canadian psyche.

Canadians, who have long thought themselves immune to shock caused by political shenanigans, have been well and truly shocked. The range of reaction goes all the way from stoic acceptance to “what do you expect” cynicism to betrayal and outrage. Even the most diehard of Liberal supporters (this reporter included) are outraged and baying for blood.

This was the image Canadians saw on their television screens as Prime Minister Paul Martin took the unprecedented step of going on television to address the nation regarding Gomery. Martin, normally a robust, healthy looking man looked gaunt and tired as he basically pleaded with Canadians for his political life. Prime Minister Martin asked Canadians to wait until the whole Gomery report came out before we judged him. He has promised that he will call an election no later than 30 days after Gomery’s report comes out. While some see this as a way to hold on to power, others (myself included) see this as the final nail in a coffin that has been under construction since Jean Chrétien was Prime Minister.

During Martin’s speech, he stated, “I was the Minister of Finance. Knowing what I've learned this past year, I am sorry that we weren’t more vigilant - that I wasn't more vigilant. Public money was misdirected and misused. That’s unacceptable. And that is why I apologized to the Canadian people a year ago”. That single statement proves that no matter what steps he has taken to rectify the mistakes made by the previous administration, he was either complicit in Adscam or the most inept Finance Minister in the history of this country and therefore he is unfit to rule this country. For those who think that this is a harsh judgement, think of it this way: this scandal is only the latest thing in a long line of mismanaged programs (gun registry anyone?) that have cost Canadian taxpayers an obscene amount of money. The money wasted by the Federal Liberals could have provided a number of things much more desperately needed by Canadians. Affordable housing, improved healthcare, student loan relief, a program to eradicate child poverty (which the Liberals promised to do but never delivered on) are just some of the things we could have used. It could have been used for anything that would benefit Canadians. Instead time and time again, we have given the Liberals our trust and been kicked in the teeth for it. Only the level of corruption in a banana republic rivals the level of corruption in the Liberal party. At the very least, heads need to roll, and at the most, people need to be going to jail. That would include anyone and everyone who was a party to this mess that we call Adscam.

Perhaps the thing that is even more disturbing than the scandal is the way that the Liberal Party has really refused to talk about it. The Prime Minister made no comment, nor would he answer any questions about it during Parliament sessions prompting juvenile name calling from the Conservative Party opposition. In fact, the first direct reference to Adscam came only when the Prime Minister went on television to plead for his life. The Prime Minister has disappointingly refused to admit or take any responsibility for this fiasco. That is most disappointing. Almost everyone polled about the context of this article said the same thing: they voted Liberal not because they believed in the candidate in their riding, they voted Liberal because they believed in Paul Martin. What a disappointment he has turned out to be in virtually every aspect of the job he was chosen to do. From domestic policy to foreign policy, he and his cabinet ministers have flip flopped, dithered, debated to death but never made any real decisions.

The Conservative Party is currently riding high in the polls and seeing this as the death knell to the rule of the Liberals but they would do well to not count their chickens before they hatch. Stephen Harper is perhaps the least liked politician in the party and the party itself is bitterly divided beneath the congenial picture they present to party outsiders. The extreme right wing ideology that the Alliance Party brought in to the merger with the centre right of the original Conservative Party have not mixed well and do not look like they will mix well any time in the near future. The Conservatives in the last election could have kept their lead and won more seats had they kept a tighter reign on the more extreme right of their members; however, they didn’t and the ideology that Canadians found frightening began to slip out. This is what lost them seats and will continue to lose them seats.

For now, the Liberals and the NDP have made some sort of a deal to stave off a vote of non-confidence. The budget is to be reworked to favour the needs (read: demands) of the NDP party and they have agreed to vote with the Liberals. This is not a good thing. Not for Canadians and not for parliament which is currently in the most dysfunctional state imaginable. It remains to be seen if Canadians go to the polls. If they do, it is time to kick out the Liberals and teach them a lesson they will never forget. Canadians may be complacent and forgiving but we are certainly not stupid, nor are we tolerant of corruption.

For far too long, the Liberal Party of Canada has been ruling this country with what is widely viewed as a sense of entitlement. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that no one, absolutely no one rules by entitlement in a democracy. It is up to us the voters to teach the Federal Liberals a lesson.

The Right to Life

The Right to Life...
Who Decides and How?-Amal Chaaban

In these days of modern technology where almost anything is possible, medical science can do many wonderful things. One of the things medical science cannot do however is reverse brain damage caused by lack of oxygen.

This lack of ability has been highlighted recently due to the case of a woman out of Florida named Terri Schiavo. Terri Schiavo is a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state since a heart attack in 1990. In essence, Terri Schiavo has been brain dead for the last 15 years. She is only physically alive because she has a feeding tube inserted into her stomach to keep her alive. Her husband has been lobbying unsuccessfully for the last couple of years to have her feeding tube removed to allow her to die in dignity. Her family has been at the other end blocking him successfully every time to keep her alive. The last time this woman was in the news, Florida Governor Jeb Bush interfered personally to make sure that her feeding tube was reinserted thus not just blurring the line between church and state but erasing it completely.

Terri Schiavo is now at the centre of a debate about the right to life. This is not a debate about abortion as many would think hearing the words “right to life”, it is in fact a debate about euthanasia and to a lesser extent, assisted suicide because it is the same people who are saying that both are murder and not a humane way to allow people to die with dignity. Assuredly, Schiavo’s case is not one of assisted suicide but one of euthanasia.

Michael Schiavo (Terri’s husband) is arguing that Terri would not have wanted to live this way and that removing the tube would have been in accordance with her wishes (though she had no living will so this is purely speculation on his part) since she is in what experts term a “persistent vegetative state” with rehabilitation not a possibility.

Terri’s parents (Bob and Mary Schindler) disagree based on a videotape they have of Terri where it appears that she may be responding to stimuli and the doctors they have hired say that Terri may be rehabilitated to the point where she can swallow on her own. This opinion directly contradicts the opinion of the Doctors that Michael has hired. This is where the debates and the countless court battles started.

Now the Schiavo case has become a mainstay on the Right to Life circuit with people calling Michael Schiavo a murderer. Michael Schiavo has recently won yet another court battle to have the feeding tube in his wife removed and this time no less than the Republican led United States Congress has moved to intervene and force Schiavo to have the tube replaced. Even Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (r) has entered the fray first viewing the video at the centre of the Schindler’s case then stating "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli.”

In the end, Terri Schiavo’s case is bigger than just her rights. Her enforced life or her enforced death will bring about a spate of laws and rulings that will have far reaching effects. The most important question to be asked is “who has the right to decide who lives or dies?”. This is the crux of the entire issue surrounding Schiavo and it is the crux of all the future cases that will come up. Is it the parents? The husband? Are they qualified medically and emotionally? Is it the courts? The religious right? The liberal left? The medical community; or, should it simply be left to natural selection as many say God intended when he created man.

There are no easy answers, no rights or wrongs in a case this emotional. There is simply the debate and in Schiavo’s case, the wait. It is easy for those not involved emotionally to say yes or no, to agree or to disagree but can one really say what one would do if it were their loved one? Probably not. When so much emotion is involved, medical science, logic, religion all fly right out the window. While the religious right is using the Schiavo case to highlight their agenda, Bob and Mary Schindler are fighting to keep their daughter alive. For them, it is not about law, it is not about logic, it is all about their daughter and the deep and abiding love they have for her. In her husband’s case, it is the same, he truly believes that she would not have wanted to live this way. In the end, all both parties can do is wait and see who has the right to choose whether or not Schiavo dies.

Syrian Withdrawal from Lebanon

Raw7a Bala Raj3a
-Amal Chaaban

On April 26, 2005, Lebanon finally became free. Free of the invading force that started out as a force to keep the peace. Free of the fear, of the humiliation, of the domination inflicted on them by the army of a neighbouring country. The people of Lebanon finally became free to say what they think when they think it. No more do we have to censor our words for fear of the hated Mukhabarat. No more do we have to stifle our hopes, our dreams, and our need for Lebanon to be free of all foreign armies.

Ok, end of celebrations. Now it is time for everyone to get down to the business of rebuilding our infrastructure properly and it’s time to re-democratize our country. All of the flag waving and patriotism is wonderful but it is time to back up words with actions. Time for everyone to put up or shut up as the case may be.

Since February 14, 2005, we have had demonstrations in the streets crying out for freedom, claiming unity. Now it is time to prove that unity. It is time to prove to the world and more importantly to ourselves that we will not allow sectarianism to raise its ugly head in Lebanon again. Most of all, it is time for the leaders of the opposition who finally have what they want to prove to the people who have protested daily (at great risk to themselves) in support of them that they are serious about setting aside the differences of the past and want a better future.

What it is not time for is sectarian clashes or even inter-sectarian clashes such as the one that happened between the LF and the FPM. The clash that was reported is absolutely reprehensible especially given that it took place in Martyr’s square where all of the peaceful protests were staged. Leaders of both sides have called it a “childish argument by some boys aged 16-17 whom I doubt know what is really happening between the political parties”. Regardless of whether or not it was a real clash or a childish argument filled with machismo, clashes such as that must stop and stop immediately. If they are not stopped, what starts out as a petty childish argument may metastasize into something much different and much more dangerous.

Lebanon is on the cusp of freedom. We are on our way to a true democratic government and well on our way to be ruled by a government we choose not one that Syria chooses for us. Those of us who cannot be there in body are certainly there in soul. Every person of Lebanese descent should be expressing their support of the movement in any and every way.

It is this writer’s hope that the lessons of the past will not be forgotten in the hubbub of the future. Lebanon is a beautiful place with beautiful people. Let’s stay true to the vision the Late Rafik Hariri had for the country and stay united in our cause. Remember: United we stand, Divided we fall.

With the support of everyone involved, Lebanon should be able to move past the horrors of the civil war and subsequent occupation by Syria and move into a free democratic country.

Part 2: Hariri's Murder

Grief and Hope
-Amal Chaaban

Lebanon suffered another huge loss this week with the death of former Minister and Parliamentarian Basil Fleihan in France. Mr. Fleihan died of wounds inflicted in the explosion that killed the Late Rafik Hariri making him the 20th martyr resulting from the devastation of the 14th of February.

The wounds from the 14th of February had not even begun to heal when the latest in a series of devastating blows hit Lebanese the world over. Basil Fleihan was not just a Minister or Parliamentarian; he was a patriot, a man who cared about Lebanon and its people. Mr. Fleihan never lowered himself to become involved in petty sectarian politics preferring instead to look at Lebanon as a whole. The most important job that Mr. Fleihan had however was that of Husband and Father. Mr. Fleihan has left behind a wife and two young children who will sorely miss him. The senseless act of February 14, 2005 has forever affected not one, not two, but millions of lives in a myriad of ways.

From the abyss of grief rises new hope. It was announced this week that Saad Hariri second son of the Martyr Rafik Hariri will take on the political role that his late father carried.

This news was met with both jubilation and fear. Jubilation that the plans the late Prime Minister had for Lebanon were not going to go by the wayside and fear that Saad would next be targeted for assassination (should Syria be wishing annihilation, this is what they will do). Saad Hariri is thought to already be running the Hariri family corporations.

Saad was quoted in Beirut’s English Language Daily The Daily Star as saying:

"We're helping the government, which is in the process of creating itself, to draw up the electoral law, … When there is a law we will decide whether I will run [in parliamentary elections to be held this spring] or not.". He is also quoted as saying

"The void left by my father's killing is great ... but we will continue in his path with the Lebanese youths who descended to the streets and demonstrated an unprecedented will for national unity."

For those Lebanese who want a true and independent Lebanon, this was most welcome news however; it was met with a distinct silence from Pro-Syrian factions in the country not to mention from Syria itself. This silence is both welcome and somewhat disconcerting as it leaves people wondering what Syria and its puppets will be doing next. .

Now that Syria has withdrawn it’s troops and the hated Rustom Ghazaleh has finally quit the country, it remains to be seen how the pro-Syrian factions will behave in the face of growing opposition to their domination in Government. In reality, those politicians who are pro-Syrian must face the fact that should they not choose to fall in line with what the general populace wants (a free, stable Lebanon), they will face ridicule, and worse (for them anyway) they will become irrelevant.

From the abyss of grief, new hope for Lebanon has risen. It is up to all Lebanese to live up to the expectations of unity and stability. It is up to us to live up to our hope.

Hariri's Murder

More than a month after the blast that murdered our beloved former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Lebanon still mourns and the Lebanese are still protesting, Traditional enemies have become best friends (albeit uneasy best friends), the deep religious divisions that tore the country apart once have been put aside in our quest for justice and freedom from our oppressors. Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was many things to many people. To some, he was a ruthless businessman; to others, a consummate politician. To those of us who were lucky enough to be in Lebanon when he was Prime Minister, he was Lebanon. Mr. Hariri embodied the Lebanese spirit. He was responsible for much of the rebuilding of Lebanon. To the poor of Lebanon (and there are many), he was known as “Bay Al Fa2eer” or Father of the Poor. Mr. Hariri was well known for his generosity both in public and for his generosity in private. This self-made multibillionaire never forgot the humble beginnings he had, nor did he ever forget the struggles that he faced to get to where he was. Mr. Hariri was not only the Father of the Poor; he was also the man responsible for sending over 30,000 students to university across the world. In short, this was not a man whose loss was going to be taken nor felt likely. The enormous outpouring of grief has not ceased in Lebanon. Even during the protests that have mobilized the country, the grief is ever present and the face of our fallen Prime Minister is there. Whoever planned this hideous crime could not have predicted that what they were planning would not divide but would unite all Lebanese of all religious affiliations. Everyone in Lebanon and abroad has felt this loss keenly and we were all awaiting an answer from the U.N. Well we got one. To no one’s surprise, the United Nations investigators found that the Lebanese investigation was little more than a joke. Evidence at the scene was tampered with, removed, covered up. In a word, the Lebanese government and their Syrian puppet masters did not want to let the truth be known. The report stated in part: “The Lebanese investigation process suffers from serious flaws and has neither the capacity nor the commitment to reach a satisfactory and credible conclusion. To find the truth it would be necessary to entrust the investigation to an international independent commission." Not surprisingly, the Lebanese government weighed in saying: the report's conclusions were "alien to reality" adding they were "not based on documents or evidence"; and Syria said that the report: contained "too much rhetoric" and was one-sided. It should come as no surprise to those of us well versed in the continuous deceptions of the Syrian and Lebanese governments. Perhaps the most hypocritical statement came from President (read: puppet) Emile Lahoud who called on the UN to "do what is necessary" to find Mr. Hariri's killers. Please. If he really wanted to know, all he needs to do is call his Syrian boss. However, as we all know, he doesn’t want anything to interrupt his busy schedule of sun tanning and swimming so he could not be bothered to lift a finger except to say (read threaten) that the continued protests in Lebanon were going to bring only civil strife. Well, of course, it will bring civil strife when Bashar Al Assad flat out told the Hariri if he left he would “Break Lebanon” first. Lo and behold, Syria is pulling out and suddenly we have car bombs going off all over the place. The thing that is disturbing though has got to be the continued support of Hizballah for Syria. They called a protest and all of the faithful came prompting many (including this journalist) to ask “Have our beloved heroes and protectors turned into traitors to Lebanon”? This is a question that seriously needs to be addressed as quickly as possible by Hasssan Nasrallah since it is he who directs Hizballah and he who called for the protest in support of Syria. On the whole, protesting in support of the country that blew up our Former Prime Minister and the country that continuously has undermined our independence cannot be considered smart internal politics. If there were real opinion polls in Lebanon that were taken, massive popular opinion would probably show that Hizballah is fast losing the political clout it gained when it freed the south of Lebanon. It would probably also show that they should no longer be an armed militia but make the transition into the vital political party that it shows signs of becoming. Hizballah has the potential of being the political party to keep everyone on the straight path to true democracy and true democratic reform. They are not a theological party that preaches only one doctrine, they are incredibly brilliant strategists and politicians and Lebanon needs them now. The question is will they step up to the plate or will they relegate themselves to obscurity thus denying their party faithful true representation since we all know that Nabih Berri is the least likely representative of the common man of the Shiite portion of Lebanon. They must step up and fall into line with the mainstream populace quickly before they become pariahs. We are united in our cause. Our cause is Lebanon. This ribbon in blue has become the symbol of a nation waiting for freedom. This blue ribbon has become Lebanon. All who wear it crave the same things: truth, democracy and freedom from oppression. No one in Lebanon is willing to go back to the old days of taking the garbage we are fed and swallowing it willingly so as not to upset the status quo. We the Lebanese are speaking in one voice. We are standing up and we are united in our cause. Never again will we be the downtrodden. Never again will we be the victims. We are Lebanese. We are the
survivors and we will be victorious.